Archive for September 2008

CEN article: Tesco Mill Road battle lines drawn

BATTLE lines have been drawn between Tesco and Cambridge City Council as the supermarket giant takes its fight to open a store in Mill Road to a planning inspector. 

Tesco is appealing to be allowed to build a single-storey extension at the back of the former Wilco store and install refrigeration equipment after the council rejected the plans. 

The two sides faced each other at the Guildhall in front of planning inspector David Nicholson who said there were two key issues in the case, the effect of the proposals on highway safety and on the provision of parking spaces. 

Tesco maintains the highways authority was fully aware Mill Road was an accident blackspot with congestion issues when it was consulted and did not object to the plans. 

It added vehicles servicing the Co-operative store on Mill Road have been known to travel up Catharine Street and down Sedgwick Street. 

It also argues limited parking spaces are endorsed as a “good thing” in its opening statement, put by its representative Stephen Morgan at the hearing. 

The council disputes the suitability of servicing the store by either delivering to the front on Mill Road, turning into the service yard at the back or travel around the one way streets to get to the store. 

It hired a chartered engineer, Christopher Ackroyd, from BWB Consulting, to assess access to the site following a report commissioned by Tesco which said there was sufficient on street car parking to meet demand generated by the Express store opening and would not impact on safety.

Mr Ackroyd said delivery vehicles parking on Mill Road would “definitely be detrimental to highway safety, especially for cyclists” while travelling north along Catharine Street and back down Sedgwick Street was “certainly not a route I would expect anybody to choose to follow”. 

Questioned on whether the accident figures for Mill Road by the shop were not as bad as for the whole stretch, he replied: “Whether it’s 31st, 1st or 15th, I still say it is a problem.” 

But he was taken to task by Mr Morgan, who said Mr Ackroyd’s assessment that cyclists were equivalent to half a car when looking at the capacity of the road was “flawed” and that a large number of cyclists and low percentage of heavy goods vehicles actually meant there was greater capacity on the road. 

Mr Morgan said: “You would expect a district centre like this, a successful district centre to be busy, especially at peak times. You get some illegal parking wherever, that’s a matter of enforcement. 

“It is not a reason for turning a development away which is otherwise compliant with policy objectives.”

CEN article: D-Day looms in Tesco Mill Road shop battle

TESCO chiefs will today go head-to-head with campaigners in the battle for an Express store.

The saga of the proposed store in Mill Road, Cambridge, which is famed for its independent shops, is set to end.

A public inquiry at 10am will see the supermarket giant bring all its weight to bear on No Mill Road Tesco protesters.

Tesco bosses yesterday confirmed their “commitment” to open their ninth store in the city.

This is despite the site being squatted in by protesters, who were later evicted, as well as protest marches and more than 1,000 planning objections.

Campaign spokeswoman Ruth Deyermond said: “Tesco tell visitors to their website that “it is important a new store opening is welcomed by local people” and that “we work closely with local communities so we understand local issues and concerns”.

“Thousands of local people have been very clear about the fact that a Tesco Express is not wanted or needed in the area and that its dangerous delivery plans would cause huge disruption to drivers, cyclists, buses, and emergency vehicles on Mill Road. Tesco have simply ignored them.

“As we said months ago, if Tesco thought they were likely to win this appeal, they would not have tried – and failed – to open a smaller store in July. We have read Tesco’s evidence to the planning inspector and are looking forward to discussing it with them.”

On the eve of the public inquiry, Mill Road county councillors Nichola Harrison and Kilian Bourke are promoting the idea of the road as an Independent Business Zone.

Cllr Harrison said: “An Independent Business Zone will have to be an informal designation at first, but if it is actively supported by shopkeepers and local residents as well as the city and county councils, we think it has great potential as a force for protecting and improving Mill Road.”

But a Tesco a spokeswoman said the company was going to press ahead: “We have constantly demonstrated our commitment to bringing a small Express store to Mill Road.

“Although we are aware some people are against our proposals, we have been encouraged by a significant number of expressions of support for our scheme.

“Experience shows an Express store can add further vitality to an area like Mill Road and be a real benefit to local businesses.

“It is therefore disappointing that, whilst the shop has existing consent for retail use, the application for relatively minor changes was refused.

“The reasons given for refusal were not in our opinion valid planning reasons and we look forward to putting the facts to the forthcoming inquiry.”

Cambridge Evening News, 30th September 2008

CEN article: Mill Road gridlock warning

Home - Fears Tesco lorries will block streets

Image: Campaigners hold a banner the size of a delivery lorry in the car park of the proposed Tesco store.

THE battle against Tesco’s plans for one of the city’s main streets starts tomorrow – amid fears of gridlock and traffic chaos.

The fight to stop the supermarket giant opening an Express store in Mill Road will take another twist as a public inquiry gets under way tomorrow.

And campaigners took to the streets to show their feelings and highlight the congestion deliveries to the store would cause.

The No Mill Road Tesco campaign says it would be a “travesty of democracy” if councillors give the green light for the store to open despite huge opposition.

Protesters believe 40 lorries a week, each taking 40 minutes to deliver to the Express store, will bring traffic to a standstill. They also claim it will be a danger to cyclists, pedestrians and motorists in the narrow road famed for its unique shops.

In a bid to highlight the impact on the road, protesters drove a “lorry” to show the congestion they fear.

They carried a large piece of fabric the size of an HGV to the car park at the back of the proposed shop.
Campaigner Tom Rich said: “These deliveries will not only cause major traffic problems but there is a bigger question of the danger to cyclists and “pedestrians. We are expecting the inquiry sees sense and not make the daft decision of allowing the store to open.”

Tesco is forging on with a planning application for a refrigeration unit despite planning chiefs rejecting the proposals.

Protesters took to the street on Friday in a day of action carrying the “lorry”.

The public inquiry gets under way at 10am at the city’s Guildhall tomorrow (Tuesday, 30 September).

It will hear Tesco’s appeal against the refusal of planning permission to extend the building.

In July, councillors refused another application from Tesco for air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment.

Tesco had previously gained permission for signs and a cash machine and the site is designated as Class A1 land use, for a shop.

Cambridge Evening News, 29th September 2008

Public Inquiry – public attendence

The Public Inquiry forced by Tesco’s appeal to the Planning Inspectorate will start on Tues 30 September 10am, at the Guildhall Council Chamber, Market Square.

It’s very important as many people as possible come along to show the strength of local feeling.

Please be there by 9.45am.

The Campaign will be speaking, but anyone else wishing to speak (the more the better) may inform the Planning Inspector then, and you can say if you do not wish to be questioned by the lawyers present.

The atmosphere should be non-confrontational.

The Inquiry is scheduled to continue on Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd October.

You do not need to be there all the time, or every day – just for the 10am start on Tuesday 30th September and stay for as long as you can.

Human lorry

We organised a human lorry to demonstrate the amount of space that will be taken up by their deliveries from Mill Road itself and a sidestreet, if they manage to find a way to do this. Obviously as we were unable to block the road, never mind for the 40 minutes that Tesco propose, but these pictures should give an idea of the disruption that Tesco propose to create.

Permission is granted to reproduce these images, as long as the source, “No Mill Road Tesco Campaign –” is credited.

No Mill Road Tesco shopping bags

No Mill Road Tesco shopping bags are now available, for a £3 donation!

Limited Edition

Free delivery in Romsey – call 07950 656799, or purchase from Libra Aries Bookshop (near the Wilco site).

Quick update

Here is a quick update on the state of play at present.

Planning Application

Tesco submitted a planning application for air conditioning and refrigeration equipment for their planned small Tesco Express store at the old Wilco site on Mill Road. This application was refused by councillors at the East Area Committee meeting on 31 July.

Mill Road Social Centre

The eviction of the Social Centre and emptying of the site was contracted by Tesco two weeks before the refusal of the latest planning application. No shop fitting has taken place, but the premises have been gutted.

Planning Inquiry

Tesco’s original application for an extension to the site (plus air-conditioning and refrigeration plant) was turned down by the council in March. Tesco has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate to overturn the council’s refusal.

The public inquiry starts on 30 September at 10.00 am at the Guildhall.